The minimum age of criminal responsibility in continental Europe has a solid rational base


  • Ido Weijers Utrecht University


The focus this article takes is on the proposition that the age of criminal responsibility is a meaningful term. It will be stated that there is no proof that today’s young children have a greater understanding of the world than children had in the past. The article wants to make clear that the principle that children below a certain age are too young to be held responsible for breaking the law can be based on strong scientific evidence. It argues that it is unacceptable in the light of these empirical findings to decide not to have a national minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) and to leave the decision to prosecute a child under a certain age to the Lord Advocate. It is stated that there is sufficient scientific ground to conclude that a
realistic MACR would be at age 14 or 15.